At the beginning of the year, we knew this Phillies team would be bad; but I do not think anyone expected them to be THIS bad. By “this bad” I mean 24-47 near the end of June, dead last in all of baseball. I also mean a team that constantly makes mental errors, missing bases and forgetting to put the bullpen phone back on the hook (yes, that happened). And also a team that got Chase Utley so mad, the usually quiet and calm second baseman screamed at the pitching coach during a mound visit this past Tuesday. Oh yeah, THAT team.
So despite a rare 9-2 win today over the Cardinals, there were still disgruntled fans, players and even boo’s raining down from the stands. Why? Because manager Ryne Sandberg showed everyone that he cannot manage this team. As if the “players-gone-wild” (Utley) vibe were not bad enough, Sandberg dug a deeper hole today by pulling rookie pitcher Adam Morgan with 2 outs in the 6th inning for no apparent reason. The kid had pitched a great game, allowing 1 run, and only had 78 pitches. Not to mention that the Phillies had a 5-1 lead. Sure, Morgan had just walked a batter, but who cares? He deserved to finish the inning. At this point, winning and losing is of little consequence – this team sucks and will not make the playoffs. So what is important is developing young players. By taking Morgan out, Sandberg sent a message that he has no confidence in the young player, which can be devastating to a guy, especially in his major league debut. Morgan got a standing ovation as he walked off, while Sandberg left to a chorus of boo’s.
And that was a real shame especially because the Phillies finally managed some offense today, which should have been cause to celebrate. Instead, we are all left with a feeling of disappointment because it seems obvious (at least to me) that Sandberg is not cut out for the job. He simply does not have the appropriate people skills to manage. Don’t get me wrong; I have met Sandberg and he is a super nice guy. But being nice does not a good manager make. And with the GM’s job also in jeopardy, Sandberg may be out of time to find ways to improve.
A few other items of note today involved Cole Hamels. Before the game, he was seen cavorting with Cardinals players and even posing for photos. One of these is Greg Garcia; I think the other is Xavier Scruggs. I have seen players chat during warm-ups; this is not unusual. But Hamels brought a photographer with him to the Cards dugout for a pre-meditated photo-op. Now that is something I have never seen. Seeing baseball etiquette pushed aside, I can’t help but wonder if maybe Cole has one foot out the door already?
And by the way, does anyone else find it suspicious that Hamels had a “minor” hamstring issue that caused him to miss pitching against the Cardinals and magically rescheduled him to pitch against the Yankees in New York on Wednesday? It could be legit, but rumor has it that the Yankees are in dire need of starting pitching. And this is the perfect way to showcase Hamels to the Yanks. Just sayin’…
Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.